Derrick Rose nearing a return after the All-Star break
In April last year, the Chicago Bulls were easing their way to a win in Game 1 of the opening round series with the Philadelphia 76ers at the United Center. Having finished with the best record in the regular season for the second consecutive year, all appeared to be well.
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However, as the clock ticked down a collective gasp echoed around the arena by the Bulls faithful as their hometown hero Derrick Rose crumpled to the floor clutching his left knee. Their worst fears were later confirmed, as Rose was ruled out for the remainder of the play-offs and start of the next campaign with a torn ACL.
In that time, Rose has steadily picked up his rehabilitation, working with sponsors Adidas in releasing videos coined ‘The Return’ which have followed his progress. Since, fans have seen him take to the court to warm-up with his team-mates, with many touting a possible return after the All-Star weekend next week.
The Bulls have been cautious throughout the process, eager to avoid giving Rose a definitive comeback date. However, coach Tom Thibodeau recently revealed the former MVP is back to taking full contact in training, giving the biggest indication yet that Rose may be ready to return.
Admirably, in his absence the Bulls have battled their way to fourth spot in the Eastern conference with a 29-19 record. However, despite the added efforts from the likes of Joakim Noah and British star Luol Deng, if they have aspirations of reaching the Finals and going further, Rose is an integral part of the team that they can’t win without.
Much will depend on his fitness and form when he returns, after having spent so long on the sidelines he will need to be gradually worked back into the team off the bench. However, widely recognised as a humble and respected athlete not only amongst his fellow players and fans, it will be a huge boost for the NBA to see him back on the court.